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Driving patient care through access, market power


As critical as it is to celebrate the independent spirit that drives community pharmacists to excel in patient care, it is as critical to empower those independents by ensuring patient access. AmerisourceBergen is empowering its independent partners in three critical ways: by ensuring patient access through its direct relationships with manufacturers, by commanding better terms through greater economies of scale and by heralding the market power independent pharmacy can wield in reaching underserved patient populations with specialty medicines.

“Our role is to represent our community pharmacies to the manufacturer,” Peyton Howell, President, Global Sourcing and Manufacturer Relations, told Drug Store News in an exclusive interview at this year’s ThoughtSpot conference. “Our job is to build that relationship. We really are a bridge that represents each of those pharmacies to the manufacturer, [and] that means making the bridge as strong and wide as possible.”


Howell noted that AmerisourceBergen brings a consultative approach to its conversations with manufacturers, making sure they really understand the work that community pharmacists are doing, especially when it comes to patient access.

“The No. 1 thing we do in talking with a manufacturer is focus on patient access,” Howell said. “In addition to access, we want to make sure the manufacturer recognizes the specialized services that can happen in a community pharmacy setting. That’s why we’re seeing such great growth now with some of the specialty products in the community settings.”

Better terms

Generics are also incredibly important in the world of pharmacy, and the work AmerisourceBergen is doing to secure the best pricing for generics is essential. “The biggest solution that we bring to community pharmacy is our PRxO Generics formulary,” Howell said. It’s a formulary around which AmerisourceBergen is as focused on price and access as it is on the details of the product, making sure the size, shape and color of the product is as consistent as possible. If a manufacturer constantly changes the look and feel of a prescription for patients, they might stop taking the medicine out of concern that the medicine itself is different. “We want to try and keep the product consistent if at all possible, so there’s not an interruption for the patient, while being able to deliver better value back to that pharmacy,” Howell said.

AmerisourceBergen recently aligned an international team in Bern, Switzerland, that capitalizes on AmerisourceBergen’s relationship with Walgreens Boots Alliance. “We’re aligned with the scale that Walgreens Boots Alliance brings so that we can have the benefit of that scale brought to our Good Neighbor Pharmacy customers,” Howell explained. “Because of our relationship with Walgreens Boots Alliance, we really are now the largest purchaser of many products. That brings with it access and value, and that’s critical. Because without that we couldn’t deliver more value back to Good Neighbor Pharmacies.

AmerisourceBergen is also enabling first-to-shelf programs to its independents, which give pharmacies an option to be able to get products when there’s a new generic launch the same day as their big-box competitors. “We want to make sure a Good Neighbor Pharmacy has that same access to a brand-new product as those large chains, so they can better serve their patients,” Howell said.

Specialty medicines

AmerisourceBergen has had a number of wins with manufacturers this past year that are critically important to Good Neighbor Pharmacy. The biggest wins are related to specialty products. “We’ve been able to meet with manufacturers and convince [them] to make sure they have open access to community pharmacy,” Howell said. “And the exciting win we’ve seen this year is in some of the new classes of products that have come out. We’ve seen that when a product is available in the community pharmacy setting, more patients have access to it. And when that same class of product wasn’t available in community pharmacy, the product didn’t do as well.”

When AmerisourceBergen talks to manufacturers about community pharmacy, it’s a powerful discussion because most Good Neighbor Pharmacy locations tend to be in communities that are underserved. “When you put it that way to manufacturers, it’s compelling, because manufacturers have that same struggle of getting into underserved markets,” Howell said. “The other piece is that personalized approach that comes from community pharmacy. … That’s exactly the kind of service model that manufacturers are looking for, particularly for some of these more specialized products where some type of patient counseling might be critical to the patient starting therapy correctly and most importantly staying on therapy.”

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